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NATCA Provides Scholarships to Deserving Students

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert announced the selections on April 11, 2019. “We were pleased to see so many applicants take part in the process this year,” said Rinaldi. “It is both interesting and meaningful to hear perspective from young people about their experiences during the government shutdown. The essays repeatedly showed that the shutdown didn’t just affect their parents and family members.” Gilbert added, “Congratulations to all the recipients of the 2019 NATCA Scholarship. We enjoyed reading your essay submissions and wish you great success with your academic endeavors.”

The students were asked the question, “How does a government shutdown affect the aviation system in general, and NATCA members and their families in particular?” Out of the 22 scholarship winners, two recipients, Brian Henn and Kiara Kennington, were given the President’s Award, a $2,000 scholarship. The other winners received a $1,000 scholarship.

Brian Henn, son of Region X member Joseph Henn, Engineer/Eastern Region (EEA)

Kiara Kennington, daughter of Northwest Mountain Region member Richard Kennington, Portland ATCT (PDX)

Brian and Kiara took the time to discuss and compare their experiences with a teacher strike in their school district, coming to Capitol Hill to participate in the NATCA rally earlier this year, the detriment the shutdown had on the National Airspace System, as well as on the morale of federal workers. View both of their essays beneath the full list of winners.

The NATCA Scholarship Program was established for the spouses and children of active, retired, and deceased NATCA members with continuous membership in good standing of at least two years. These scholarships are awarded for full-time attendance at accredited colleges and universities within the United States and its territories for an undergraduate degree program.

All Scholarship winners:

Recipient Name Member Name Region Facility
Davy Adams Josh Adams NNM DEN
Emily Anderson Kent Anderson NGL BIS
Emily Angelotti Neil Angelotti NRX EEA
Donovan Baker Gregory and Angela Baker NSO ZTL
Dominick Davidson Brad Davidson NRX EGL
Megan Donnelly Kevin Donnelly NEA ZNY
Krystle Green Samuel Green NSO TLH
Samantha Greene Jeremiah Greene NSO ZJX
Lauren Grider Jason Grider NSW ZFW
Brian Henn Joseph Henn NRX EEA
Morgan Hughes Philip Hughes NNE A90
Kiara Kennington Richard Kennington NNM PDX
Ming Kostuck Donald Kostuck NSW DFW
Quinn McElvain Jeffrey and Dawn McElvain NNM ZSE
Eric Orozco Vanessa Gurrola NGL ORD
Mia Perigo Kristi Perigo NCE ZKC
Aaron Roever Rick Roever NGL ZID
Kennedy Smith Kimberly McCann NSW ZHU
Matthew Smith Anthony Smith NEA DCC
Ryan Srafin Kimberly Srafin NEA PIT
Hailey Thomas Chris Thomas NWP L30
Donovan Williams Lucille Williams NRX ESO

Winning Essays

Brian Henn

The United States aviation system has long served as the gold standard in maintaining an organized, efficient, and most importantly safe traveling environment. In order for this complex system to function at full effectiveness, complete cohesion among the various workings of the aviation system must be maintained. Every single individual in the aviation conglomerate is absolutely essential, even in terms of single employees. The removal of an individual makes the dangers of inefficiencies become evident, not only in monetary cost but possibly in human lives and livelihoods. Due to the structural delicacy of the aviation system, the recent government shutdown, and the subsequent furlough, had ubiquitous effects on air travel, and hindered many of the various functions NATCA members are responsible for. This put into jeopardy the entire organizational structure of America’s aviation system, and thusly billions of dollars were lost to inefficiencies, errors, and miscommunications. Without a full staff, the apparatus that was once leading the world in its size and scale was growing increasingly impotent with each passing day. However, this shutdown also had a much more palpable human consequence. Some families affected by the furlough had no source of income, and had to rely on sheer thrift and savings, as well as making several sacrifices to their family lives to make ends meet, such as cancelling a long-planned vacation, celebrating a birthday or anniversary, or other simple pleasures. Some furloughed employees who had lived month to month had to find another source of income merely to subsist.

On January 10th, my father and I joined members of NATCA, ALPA, PASS, and the AFA in front of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. in order to protest the December 22nd government shutdown. We were not only accompanied by fellow union members and coworkers, but by families and friends, real people. This sentiment was exemplified in the demonstrator’s chant: “real people, real consequences.” In the chaos of a political and infrastructural emergency, people tend to forget that this shutdown was a truly personal crisis for many. Federal employees were denied their right to steady wages, as well as the promise of security for not only themselves, but for their families. At the protest itself, despite the very political nature of the shutdown itself, many of the speeches by union representatives and congressmen did not attack a politician or party. Many speeches addressed the dangers of the shutdown for travelers, and the economy. However, the most rousing speeches were those that centered around the union values of community, organization, and sympathy for the real humans dismissed as superficial statistics. Thousands of furloughed employees meant thousands of denials to security for men and women who simply want to serve the world’s paramount aviation system. Aided by the camaraderie and spirit of the NATCA protesters, I was able to continue the fight not for “furloughed workers,” but for genuine, passionate people who were wrongly excluded from their jobs, and deserve every single paycheck for their honest labor.

Kiara Kennington

“Now is the time to seize the day!

Stare down the odds and don’t delay!”

As my Senior class project, I directed new actors as they banded together to sing these lyrics from the musical Newsies which tells the story of the Newsboy Strike of 1899. Publishers had raised the price the Newsies paid for newspapers; which they couldn’t afford. With their livelihood in jeopardy, they organized themselves and created a union. In the end, the Newsies beat the odds and won their demands.

I love this musical for its message about working together and standing up for what’s right. I was given the opportunity to put the principle of standing together into action this past fall when the teachers of my school district went on strike. As a musical theater student, when I heard the word strike, I thought of the Newsies and decided it was my time to “seize the day”. I had the opportunity to walk with the teachers on the picket line and feed them with funds provided by PDX Tower controllers and my family. I saw the hardships the teachers faced but, in the end, they won their demands.

I could not have imagined that the principles of solidarity and unity that I learned from a play about an event in 1899 or a teacher strike would soon be so important to me and my family. The longest shutdown in U.S. history began in December 2018 and hardships quickly became obvious to the “cast” of union members that my Dad serves in his position as Facility Representative at Portland Tower.

I saw a lot of similarities between the Newsies reaction and NATCA’s response to the shutdown hardships. Like the Newsies, who used other papers to get their message out, NATCA utilized various media to educate the public about the condition of the membership and the safety of aviation. Perhaps the most important similarity I saw was the support of the public. The public supported the newsboys by refusing to buy papers from the publishing company, decreasing their circulation by two thirds. NATCA members received public support through donations of food and supplies from our local community and our controller brothers and sisters worldwide. Other unions, family and friends showed solidarity when they reached out to Members of Congress with the message to end the shutdown. After thirty-five days, NATCA won their demands.

The lessons I learned from my Dad’s union involvement taught me about standing together as one voice and that was on display in the high school theater as my cast did their best to tell an important story. But it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to put those lessons into action that I truly realized “wrongs will be righted, if we’re united. Let us seize the day.”



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